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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 28, 2007

Sven bemused by Santa's controversial strike

Sven-Goran Eriksson remains unconvinced over referee Howard Webb's claim he was right to allow Roque Santa Cruz's controversial late equaliser that robbed Manchester City of their 100% home league record against Blackburn last night.

Santa Cruz powered home David Bentley's curling cross six minutes from time to earn Rovers a 2-2 draw.

Yet even visitors' boss Mark Hughes felt sure the goal would be disallowed after assistant referee Darren Cann raised his flag.

However, Cann then informed Webb he had incorrectly anticipated David Dunn getting a touch on Bentley's cross. And, while Dunn was in an offside position, he was deemed to be non-active, allowing Webb to give the goal.

'Whether that is interference according to FIFA I don't know but to me it is interference,' argued Eriksson.

'By being in that position, Dunn decides what our goalkeeper is going to do.

'I asked the referee to explain it to me afterwards and he did say it is a big grey area. I really don't know.'

For Hughes, who spent most of the second-half berating Cann and Webb for a stream of borderline decisions that went against his team, the incident represented a welcome turn of fortune.

'In fairness to the assistant, he was strong enough and brave enough to call Mr Webb over and admit he had made a mistake,' said the Rovers chief.

'That obviously does not happen very often, so we are grateful for it. Now we have to capitalise on the turn of fortune.'

Having already netted one equaliser after Darius Vassell had put City in front, Santa Cruz has now scored 13 times for Blackburn, including seven in the last four games.

Incredibly, that sequence has generated one draw and three defeats in an overall run of one win in 10 games.

Another reverse looked on the cards last night too as Ryan Nelsen turned home a low cross from the excellent Martin Petrov to ease City back in front before the break.

Santa Cruz's late effort ensured Petrov's efforts were in vain as City remain in fifth ahead of Sunday's eagerly-awaited showdown with Liverpool.

However, with the Bulgarian, a £3.8million summer signing from Atletico Madrid, starting to regain his early-season form, Rafael Benitez's men will need to be on their guard.

'Petrov was fantastic,' said Eriksson.

'He only played six or seven games in the Spanish league last season because he was coming back from a cruciate operation.

'I am very confident he will be better in the future.'